“We Can!”

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By Mike Forgrave, CPed (c), CPed

In August of 2004, ten certified pedorthists broke new ground for our profession. They were the first certified pedorthists invited to treat athletes at a Summer Olympics. As part of the foot and ankle team in the Polyclinic, we were working hand-in-hand with podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, and nurses. The Polyclinic is a multidisciplinary clinic, which includes professionals from dentistry, optometry, orthopedics, orthopedic foot and ankle, physiotherapy, sports medicine, psychology, and gynecology.

The clinic was open to all Olympic participants, including athletes, team personnel, and Olympic volunteers. The foot and ankle section of the Polyclinic was the third busiest clinic, right behind dentistry and optometry, seeing nearly 1,000 "incidents" during the Olympics.

Pedorthists became an integral part of the foot and ankle team, not just manufacturers of foot orthotics. We were consulted on what can and can't be done to help the patients, ranging from changing their shoes to evaluating their foot mechanics and pressure points. We dealt with such pathologies as plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, sesmoiditis, tibialis posterior periostitis, IT band syndromes, and patella femoral pain. Although we did not have the facilities to manufacture custom-made foot orthoses, we were able to customize foot orthotic blanks provided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from Italy and were even required to manufacture rocker soles.

Pedorthics--Making an Impact Worldwide

The reason for telling this story is not to brag, but rather to show how pedorthics is being accepted worldwide. Most of the foot and ankle team in Athens had never heard of pedorthics. The exception was a foot and ankle surgeon who trained in the United States and knew about pedorthics from a diabetic standpoint--and even he wasn't sure of our capabilities in a sports medicine context.

Our pedorthists became such an integral part of the healthcare team in Athens that it has been recommended that pedorthics be included in the 2008 Beijing Games. There are also opportunities being presented for inclusion in other elite sport venues.

There is so much more we can do in a teamwork approach to healthy foot and ankle care.

The pedorthic profession is not just one of footwear (although that is an integral part), but is also a source of biomechanical and pathological expertise. Our focus should be on all lower-limb dysfunction as pertaining to foot mechanics.

I would like to thank Steven Mirones, CO, CPed, and Matthew Mirones, CPO, CPed, for their vision and dedication to a profession that can contribute to healthcare worldwide.

Mike Forgrave, CPed (c), CPed, is certified in pedorthics in Canada and the US and has been in private practice in Kitchener, Ontario, since 1985. He is president-elect of the Pedorthic Footwear Association (PFA) and served as a member of the 2004 Athens Pedorthic Olympic Volunteer Program.